July 11th, 2015 | Features | 0 Comments
Stephen Stills is kind of an interesting case. After the dissolution of Buffalo Springfield, of the band’s three principle songwriters – Richie Furay, Neil Young and Stills – Stills was considered by many to be the most promising. Of course, it was Stills who wrote Buffalo Springfield‘s biggest hit, “For What It’s Worth”, as well as “Bluebird”, the centrepiece of the band’s best album, Buffalo Springfield Again.
Stills would later achieve stardom and success as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young), but he never attained the legendary solo artist status that his sometimes friend and bandmate Young did. For the most part, this is understandable: Young was always the more interesting, experimental and ahead-of-his-time songwriter. That being said, in the current historical narrative, Stills is often given short-shrift. His short-lived 70s band Manassas is a perfect example of this.
Though Manassas and their first, self-titled album were successful back in the day, the album is one few talk about these days and without good reason. Mannasas is a sprawling, ambitious two-disc mix of Southern rock, country, blues and bluegrass that holds together beautifully, supported as it is by a stellar cast of musicians (including ex-Byrd/Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman, Al Perkins, and The Rolling Stones‘ Bill Wyman) and a lot of great songwriting. The album is very much a product of its time, but not so much that it doesn’t still hold up. Just listen to should-be-classic tracks like “Both Of Us (Bound To Lose)” and “Right Now”.
Actually, if one had to pick Manassas’ closest musical relative, it would probably be The Rolling Stones‘ own classic double-album mix of rock, blues, folk and country: the explosively-inspired, heroin-fueled Exile On Mainstreet. Manassas may not have Exile‘s incredible, era-defining energy, but it is the more authentically American of the two. And that’s gotta count for something, right? Even if it doesn’t, Manassas is still a great album. Perhaps the greatest you’ll find in the used-vinyl dollar bin. If you see it there, consider grabbing it. If people catch on to what a forgotten classic it is, it might not be there much longer.